Dementia,

  • 5 Things I learned from Dementia that make me a better person--#1

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    I don't have a dementia diagnosis but I've coped with it as both a professional and family caregiver for the past 15 years. Our national dialogue talks about the many burdens dementia sufferers and their families face but seldom do we hear any positive takeaways. Over the next five months I'll share the life changing things I've learned and show how experience with dementia helps me face my own aging and aids me in personal growth. This month: Lesson #1

    Artwork above by Joan Dolan from The Artist Within Exhibit

     

  • 5 Things I've learned from Dementia--#2

    "Orange Lily" by Jane Kippenhan from The Art of Alzheimer's exhibit

    #2 Examine your need to be "right"

    Living in our polarized scientific society where it's common to hear arguments about who is right this lesson was hard to learn. Yet in dementia care one not only finds out immediately that it's counterproductive to be right but it's also not a winning strategy for establishing a therapeutic bond. The object of dementia caregiving is to become an ally and the highest priority is to establish trust because as dementia erodes judgement it is critical to know someone trustworthy to provide guidance. The reflex to be right is insidious and it pops up in language subconsciously. For example it's reflexive to say: "you're going the wrong way" which implies that you know the "right" way or "No, you didn't x" which means you hold the factual truth regarding x. Effectively supporting dementia requires a paradigm shift in communication and adopting that shift enriches my daily life and social contacts.